Karl Haendel creates large-scale graphite drawings on paper in various sizes, which are displayed in a diversity of configurations on the walls. He combines and arranges the works, acting as an editor, generating new relationships and juxtapositions between images, and suggesting new meanings for a number of themes. The subjects of Haendel's works are collected from the private and
public realm, usually photographic imagery, and include personal narrative, political commentary, and modernist references.
The artist states: "I've always felt that walking into a museum where a series of paintings are lined up on the wall at eye level and evenly spaced is fairly boring. The human body is not static, we move, our heads tilt and swivel, or eyes dart around .... I like to think that the way I install provides a kind of pacing for the viewer, allowing repetition and differences to come forward, providing gaps, bits of silence between noise. The negative space is significant, as I like to think it all happens in the space between works."
Haendel made this group of thirty-four drawings specifically for the Lever House installation, and was inspired by the classic 1952 Modernist architecture of the building. To counter the rigid geometry, glass and steel, and dominant rectangular forms featured in this ideal modern structure, Haendel presents images of the ideal form of eggs, only broken, and numerous depictions of Cracked Glass and Cracked Mirrors that refer to the expansive glass walls of Lever House. In addition, drawings of Power Cords counter the rectilinear aspects of the building and offer a curvilinear and lyrical interpretation, and the
Boogie Woogie drawings make direct reference to Mondrian's paintings of a gridded New York City landscape of rigid repeated squares, but Haendel has added dynamic diagonal lines in the drawings that dictated the diagonal placement of the constructed, and disorienting, walls in the Lever House lobby.
Text is also an important component of Haendel's work, and his List drawings present a linear compendium of phrases (often book titles) that might be potential titles for new drawings. They often contain a formal typeface with casual script comments added: "I was Tortured by a Pygmy Love Queen" followed by "too silly, means nothing;" "All Dogs have ADD, " with comment "too canine." Others meet with the artist's approval, and are greeted with "Good and True," or "Nice, snappy, to the point," such as " Informal Family Blackmail,' and "Joys of Discontent."
Karl Haendel was born in New York City in 1976, and studied at Brown University, Providence, Rhone Island (BA, 1998); Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York (1999); Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine (2000); and University of California, Los Angeles (MFA, 2003). The artist lives and works in Los Angeles. Haendel's work has been exhibited at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams; Ruben Family Collection, Miami; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and his work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California. The artist is represented by Harris Lieberman Gallery, New York.